SUB­LIME

Driven: Audi’s sen­sa­tional S4 quat­tro sedan

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

IT’S a big prob­lem for Audi as the S4 is ex­cep­tional, cre­at­ing an enor­mous chal­lenge for the engi­neers and de­sign­ers cur­rently work­ing on the RS4, the per­for­mance flag­ship of the su­perb A4 range.

The S4 is a won­der­ful mix of power and lux­ury with un­der­stated looks ... a real sleeper.

It will reach 100km/h in 4.7 sec­onds and thunder on to 250km/h (elec­tron­i­cally lim­ited).

The last V8-pow­ered RS4 did the same, yet cost an­other $50K more.

The Ger­man boffins will be aim­ing for a low 4 sec­ond time for the next RS4, in line with ri­vals at BMW (M3) and Mercedes-Benz (C63AMG).

DE­TAIL­ING

The S4 comes with 19in al­loy wheels, adap­tive dampers, around-view cam­era, re­vers­ing cam­era, up-spec satel­lite-nav­i­ga­tion, adap­tive cruise con­trol, auto park­ing, auto head­lights and wipers, high beam as­sist, key­less en­try and start, heated fold­ing elec­tric mir­rors, LED head­lights, dy­namic scrolling rear in­di­ca­tors, elec­tric heated sports front seats, leather and Al­can­tara trim, three-zone cli­mate con­trol and in­te­rior LED light­ing.

A 10-speaker stereo is pow­ered by Audi’s MMI ro­tary dial sys­tem and the same 8.3-inch screen as the rest of the A4 range, which also means you get Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto as well as two USB ports in the cen­tre con­sole to go with the Blue­tooth. There’s also a DAB+ dig­i­tal ra­dio.

Audi’s Vir­tual Cock­pit is stan­dard and has an ad­di­tional S mode which switches the dial view for a big tacho and a huge dig­i­tal speed read­out.

The base model is about $ 108,250 but be­ing an Audi it came with a stack of op­tions, in- clud­ing an S Per­for­mance Pack ($4125) with bet­ter leather seats and red brake calipers and a quat­tros port dif­fer­en­tial ($2062), which added an­other $13,500 to top out at $130,709.28 on the road.

Some of the op­tions, such as a $1727 sun­roof, are not nec­es­sary

The S4 has four bot­tle hold­ers, cuphold­ers front and rear for a to­tal of four and var­i­ous slots and spots for phones and keys in the front while the rear is a lit­tle less ac­com­mo­dat­ing of bits and pieces.

Audi says S4 own­ers pre­fer to fly un­der the radar so the car doesn’t look much dif­fer­ent from an op­tioned up A4.

How­ever, it is 23mm lower and the 19in al­loys beef up the looks as well. It’s re­strained, with just a few de­tails, in­clud­ing a V6T badge on the front guards.

In­side is as roomy and com­fort­able as the stan­dard car and looks just as good. It’s a fine in­te­rior, the best in its class.

DRIV­ING

The tur­bocharged V6 is new from the ground up with 260kW ( 15kW in­crease) and a nice round 500Nm (up 60Nm), the new en­gine is 14kg lighter than the su­per­charged unit it re­places and more ef­fi­cient.

Power reaches the road via an Audi Sport tweaked quat­tro sys­tem which can send 85 per cent of power in ei­ther di­rec­tion and is rear-bi­ased with a stan­dard 60/ 40 rear/ front torque split. The seem­ingly ubiq­ui­tous and al­ways ex­cel­lent eight­speed ZF trans­mis­sion han­dles the job of get­ting the power from the en­gine to the road.

The sedan will rocket along with a de­li­cious Ger­man growl and is great for over­tak­ing.

It is ter­rific fun. Lag is al­most in­dis­tin­guish­able as the turbo spools up and rock­ets you along.

With dy­namic mode switched on, the car mus­cles up with firmer sus­pen­sion and a slightly throat­ier ex­haust.

It eas­ily despatches roads such as the Rex Range be­tween Mossman and Mt Mol­loy and was a lot of fun on the twisty bits of Spring­mount Rd be­hind Walka­min.

As well as the ex­cel­lent quat­tro sys­tem the brakes are ter­rific. The ride is ex­cel­lent in all modes.

The main bug­bear is road noise from the low profile tyres. Audi says fuel use should be 7.7L/100km. My drive of 300km­plus re­turned 11.

DE­CID­ING

The S4 sedan is su­perb, lighter, slightly faster and more tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced than its pre­de­ces­sor and well wor­thy of the badge.

Audi has thrown a cat among the pigeons.

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